By: Navi Persaud
Wednesday’s episode of the Mortgage Leadership Outlook featured Keith Lind, executive chairman and president of Acra Lending. Lind joined series’ host Andrew Berman, head of engagement and outreach for National Mortgage Professional Magazine, as they explored the non-QM market and what the future holds for it, Acra’s rebrand and more, and Lind’s previous time at Bear Sterns.
Lind has 19 years of mortgage-backed securities and asset-backed securities trading and structuring experience. Prior to joining Acra, Lind served as a managing director at HPS Investment Partners. He was also a trader at Brevan Howard. Prior to there, he served as a managing director and head of the US Non-Agency Mortgage-Backed Securities Trading Desk at RBS.
Highlights From The Interview:
- Lind’s first job out of college was at Bear Stearns where he learned the structure of products business from front to back. He then spent time at the financial analytics desk, the trading desk and moved on to strictly trading bonds.
- “If there’s anything that I took out of being a bond trader, it’s understanding risk, liquidity and counterparties. It’s unfortunate but I was able to put it to work right away when we (HPS Investment Partners) bought (Citadel Servicing) in February and COVID hit a month later. I think the firm, the company and the management team did a very good job of managing risk and securing the balance sheet,” said Lind. He took that ability to make quick decisions to Acra.
- “When COVID hit we had to go from 260 (employees) to 160 and now we’re back to nearly 260 again,” said Lind. He also said that he still has much to learn from the transition to an operating company.
- Lind believes that Non-QM withstood the pandemic because the industry was really facing a liquidity crisis at first.
- “I think strong underwriting, a tighter credit box but also the Fed did a good job keeping rates low, home prices did well and people wanted to buy homes. So, I think all of that has helped,” added Lind when addressing how his company was able to persevere through the pandemic.
- “Of the 110 loans, I think one person proved that they needed forbearance,” said Lind when speaking about making borrowers prove that they needed forbearances.
- In terms of the rebrand from Citadel to Acra, Lind said the previous management team wasn’t into logos or investing in marketing. He wanted to bring a fresh look and also used customer and broker feedback to help develop a new approach to doing business.
- “When I came in, I let everyone know that we were going to have an open forum. Ideas are going to be shared. The managers aren’t going to protect their businesses. They’re going to empower people around them and that’s the way we are going to build the new franchise. It’s not that the previous way was wrong, and this way was right. I’m just bringing in my leadership style. Not everyone was a fan of my approach and that’s OK.”
- Lind said developing in his position at Acra involves people skills and leadership. He added that empowering managers and leaders is also important to create a successful company.
- “We’ve made major improvements in technology on the servicing side and the operating side, to make things more efficient,” Lind said, adding most of the mortgage space is behind the times. “It’s something we are making strides to fix,” he added.